Travels with Mike
In Search of America 50 Years After Steinbeck

In the fall of 1960, the writer John Steinbeck climbed into a pickup truck with a makeshift camper on top, and started driving. He and his Standard Poodle, Charley, roamed for three months and ten thousand miles, completing a circuit from one coast to the other and back again. Steinbeck’s account of the journey, Travels with Charley In Search of America, was published in 1962, the same year he won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

A half-century later, radio producer and CDS audio program director John Biewen visited some key locations on Steinbeck’s itinerary, traveling not with a dog but with a microphone — Mike, that is. In each location, he collaborated with an artist who lives and works in that place. Travels with Mike comprises a series of conversations, across time, between a great American writer and a diverse array of contemporary artists — conversations about place and the spirit of the country.

Producer: John Biewen
Project Manager: Lynn McKnight
Website: Christopher Sims
Executive Producer: Tom Rankin

Travels with Mike is a production of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

Travels with Mike aired January 17–21, 2011 on BBC’s The Strand. The series will also be coming soon on PRI’s Studio 360, and a one-hour special, hosted by Al Letson of State of the Re:Union, to be distributed in the spring by PRX.

John Biewen, audio program director at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, has been making radio since 1983. He reported for Minnesota Public Radio, covered the Rocky Mountain West for NPR, and produced more than a dozen long-form documentaries for American RadioWorks. Biewen teaches undergraduate courses and summer audio institutes at CDS. He is editor of the book, Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound.

“Driving Cross Country with John Steinbeck.” By Rebecca Gross. “Big Read Blog: Updates on the Big Read Initiative.” March 28, 2011.

“Travels with John & Charley.” By Annette Hinkle. The Sag Harbor Express. September 24, 2010.